Going, Going ? Where?

Upper management has signed off on virtualizing the data center, and work?s progressing well. But part of moving into the new is determining how to move out the old.

It?s not as simple as kicking outdated equipment to the curb. If security worries are not top of mind, then the legal and regulatory issues?or humanitarian and environmental considerations?should bring that approach to a screeching halt. After all, computers, especially older models, may contain poisonous or nondegradable materials such as plastics, lead, mercury and polyvinyl chloride.

?What?s really been driving the growth of the [asset-management] business?and the market?is legislative complexity merging with environmental and security concerns,? says Jim O?Grady, director of the HP Financial Services Technology Renewal Center in Andover, Mass. ?Companies can?t keep up with it, and they know they are at risk.?

By not considering end-of-life policies, companies are increasing their expenses, says Joseph Pucciarelli, program director for IDC?s Technology Financing and Management Strategies, and author of a report on evaluating lifecycle management. In fact, companies can incur a 20.5 percent premium on their IT equipment by not creating and implementing a well-formed lifecycle management policy that features a repeatable and consistent framework for replacement and renewal, he says.

Leasing features a built-in methodology for getting rid of unnecessary equipment, generally covered by the contract itself. However, companies that bought their servers outright now must consider the most environmentally sound route to ridding themselves of this gear.

Some leading vendors?such as IBM and HP Financial Services?have services available to get rid of out-of-date hardware, a requirement that is growing as landfills are sated and corporations become more environmentally aware. Other IT providers, such as Savvis, do not handle this problem directly, but they do partner with companies that can resolve these issues, says Tim Caulfield, senior vice president at Savvis.

Some products are refurbished and resold; others are stripped and used for components; still others are recycled. Local and international organizations?both for-profits and charities?have entered this arena, but companies must ensure that their recycling partner is legitimate and secure, cautions HP?s O?Grady.

?Make sure you?re dealing with a reputable supplier that will handle your computers correctly?and the correct way to do that is to reuse,? he says. ?People are surprised at the percentage that can be resold, especially at the enterprise level.?